Too many of the events Americans who lived through the second half of the 20th Century remember with crystal clarity, as if they occurred yesterday, were tragedies.
However, one was a wonderful, shining triumph for all humankind, however - the culmination of a collective adventure that enthralled our nation and the world.
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," Neil Armstrong said as he stepped onto the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969.
Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, going there with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in a flight that fulfilled the promise made by the late John F. Kennedy, not long after he became president. Kennedy pledged that Americans would go to the moon and return within the decade.
With a small corps of other astronauts, including fellow Ohioan John Glenn, Armstrong signed on for the adventure.
After his historic flight, Armstrong became an international celebrity, but he was a private man who routinely shunned the limelight. He wasn't a regular on talk shows, and he didn't care to share many of his political opinions. He stepped back into the limelight briefly in 2010, quietly criticizing the decision to mothball the U.S. space shuttle fleet and abandon the capability to send men and women into the final frontier.
Armstrong, 82, died Saturday.
During an era in which the word "hero" often is used inappropriately, it is clear Americans have lost a true hero.
Godspeed to him on his final journey.